Palo Alto voters will decide in November whether the city should switch to even-numbered years for local elections.
The City Council voted 5-4 Monday night to place a measure on the November ballot that would switch the city's elections from odd years to even years. Mayor Pat Burt, Vice Mayor Sid Espinosa and Councilmen Larry Klein and Greg Schmid dissented.
The proposal to switch from odd to even years was proposed by Santa Clara County Supervisor Liz Kniss, who promoted the switch as a way to both save $200,000 every other year and to raise voter turnout.
"There's no question the voter turnout is better in even years," Kniss told the council Monday.
Klein argued that the city's tradition of having elections in odd years allows voters to focus on local elections and not be distracted by state and national issues. Burt said the council should vet the issue further before voting for it.
If the voters approve the switch, the current council members will have their terms extended by a year.
Scharff said most communities already have even-year elections and that Palo Alto should join them and, in doing so, raise its voter participation.
"We're saving money and increasing voter participation," Scharff said. "Seems to me those are two positive goals."
City staff estimates indicated savings from even-year elections would have a range but be less than the $200,000 estimate by Kniss. Some council members expressed concern expressed about potential extra costs to the Palo Alto Unified School District and Foothill-De Anza Community College District should they keep their elections in odd years.